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Posts posted by TAD2005

  1. Thanks for all of the input. We usually book a regular balcony cabin on Vista class ships and larger. However, the only way to get a private balcony on the Rotterdam is to book a Vista Suite. But a Vista Suite on the Rotterdam is identical to a regular balcony cabin on the newer ships, except for the price. That's why we are considering the Lanai cabin. When we come back to the cabin at night, we usually watch a movie on the TV. But in a normal balcony cabin we leave the drapes open. There's nothing out there except fish, so nobody can see in, even with the light of the TV. On a Lanai cabin, I would have hoped that the window coating would be reflective, so even at night, a person would have to press their nose to the glass to be able to see in. We like to wake to the sunrise, and if the drapes are closed, we lose that ability. I guess we will have to test it at night, and keep the drapes closed until the TV is off.

  2. We are looking to book on the Rotterdam, in one of their "Lanai" cabins that have a glass door that opens onto the Promenade Deck. Our concern is the visibility of people passing on the Promenade Deck looking into the cabin. Do you have privacy, or do you have to keep your drapes closed all the time ? I would hope that the glass doors are tinted with a reflective coating to prevent people from looking directly into your cabin, especially at night with lights on in the cabin. Also, is there a problem with guests stacking towels and books on the lounge chairs directly outside your cabin door, and blocking them from our use for the entire day. I know that happens near the pools, but does it happen on the Promenade Deck outside the Lanai cabins ? Any hints from previous guests in Lanai cabins would be appreciated.

  3. Depending on where you are coming from, and of you have any flight connections en-route, I would be very nervous about an arrival time of 12:40 pm. If you have a checked bag, you probably won't get out of the airport until 1:30 pm. Just because you have a HAL transfer from the FLL airport to the ship, doesn't mean they will wait for you if your flight is delayed. I'm assuming that the Southwest flight booking was done by you and not HAL. If you have a missed connection, weather or ATC delay, you will definitely miss the ship. That time of year, weather delays are very common and the very short time period from plane landing to the all aboard time could cause you to miss the ship, and then you will blow lots of money and days catching up to the ship at Grand Turk. Change your flight, arrive on Saturday the 6th and have a relaxing dinner and a night in a hotel.

  4. TAD2005, I stand corrected. Our routine was Lincoln Center, late dinning in MDR, late in the Showroom. Somehow, we missed Billboard entirely. Would have been better than our brief time with BBKings. Do miss the combo playing in Ocean Bar.


    I have heard of more than a few people who would intentionally "miss" Billboard Onboard. Their tightly structured play lists from Billboard Corp. is no comparison to the smaller, intimate, freewheeling piano bars of the past. I still prefer them to the new Billboard facility. But the old piano bars were small, and enclosed. Probably didn't generate enough drink orders to justify the space, so HAL contracts with an outside company to provide the musicians. Plus they enlarge it by 100% and open the walls to the casino traffic. I guess it was successful, because every ship from Vista class size and up are getting the change in dry-dock.

  5. Does the refund for unused $25 beverage card apply if the card came from HAL and not a gift from your TA ? I have heard that OBC from HAL is a "use it or lose it" proposition. If the $25 card is also from HAL, such as from the Cyber Sale promotion, is that also "use it or lose it" ??

  6. We had our TA book a one-way to Venice for a Med/Trans-Atlantic cruise back to FLL. We were 6 months out from the cruise, and she booked us using HAL's air department on British Airways. We immediately received a BA record locator and we were able to select our seats, and enter our FF#'s for credit back to our American Airlines account. We didn't have to pay for the flight until the cruise final payment date, it was bundled in with the cruise fare. The air was 100% cancellable, just like the cruise, until 75 days out. If you booked the air on your own, it would be non-refundable unless you paid a huge price.

  7. Totally agree with the above posts. When you are on a cruise, you are away from work, the captain's driving, and it's time to enjoy yourself. We have had the SBP for all of our past cruises and have always been on the plus side of the break-even point. Naturally, if you only have a glass or two of wine at dinner, no beverage package will make sense for you. Many people find value in it, others don't. It's a personal decision.

  8. No problem. Pack a pair of long pants and a clean top in your carry on bag. If your checked luggage is not delivered, you will have long pants to wear to dinner. :) Proper prior planning provides fo r s s imple needs. :) A pair of folded pants can fit in almost any tote bag inc luding the ones HAL give us. There is always the option to w ear long pants to board the ship. My suitcase was not delivered to my my cabin " , is really a weak, lame excuse for showing up to dinner in MDR wearing shorts.



    TAD, two top tables on most HAL ships are not few and far between :)


    7 Seas.... Looking at the PDF on HALfacts of the Westerdam MDR, upper level, out of the 85 + tables, there are a total of 14 true, 2-tops. All Vista-class ships are the same. I'm not speaking of a 4-top and they seat 2 people there, but a true table for 2. 14 out of 85 + tables is pretty few. Especially if you haven't requested a 2-top ahead of time, which we did on the Westy and had a difficult time getting it many months out.

  9. Further to the 2016 Westerdam Cruise - the Captain and HAL treated us very nicely because of missed ports, itinerary change and bad weather - $100 pp OBC, 15% of the cost of that cruise towards another one and wine/champagne when we missed the ports. It was nonetheless a memorable cruise!


    Was one of the ports you missed (and were compensated for) actually Bora Bora ? Because Bora Bora is a tender port, high winds and sea swells can make tender operations hazardous. Other people say they have missed ports in French Polynesia, but not specifically Bora Bora. Because it appears to be an extremely rare occurrence, I will probably book my over water bungalow night away from the ship and take the nonrefundable price. If something does happen and the Eurodam does miss Bora Bora, then my travel insurance will reimburse me.


    Thanks for all of the input !!

  10. We are not fans of open-seating dining (Anytime, As-You-Wish, etc). We always travel with family or close friends, so we reserve with the ship's coordinator, well in advance of the cruise, a specific table in fixed dining, which is printed on our key cards. I'm not sure about this, but if you don't show up for a reserved table in fixed dining on the first night, you may lose that reservation. Especially if it's a 2-top, which are few and far between. We even advise our waiter and matre'd if we will miss dining due to Pinnacle or Canaletto. And in all our cruises, I can't remember a time when our luggage wasn't in our cabin in time for the muster drill.

  11. We were on the "O" in Oct. and the ship looked good and everything worked well. Entertainment answer varies with cruisers' preferences. BBKings always had a big crowd. That was about the only late night entertainment. There was a "Happy Hour" in Gallery Bar at 10 0r 10:30 most nights. No live performers, near the casino activity.


    BB King the only entertainment in the evenings ?? How about the Billboard Onboard, right across from the casino, which has 3 sets a night, and has one night a week off. Their last set usually starts at 10:00 or 10:30 and goes until 11:00 or 11:30. When we leave the last set at Billboard, and pass by BB-King, they are either finished for the evening or in their last set. I prefer to sit through a couple of sets at the Billboard Onboard. Usually very talented people.

  12. Thanks for all the comments. Because Bora Bora is in a protected lagoon, there would have to be some pretty nasty weather to cause a port cancellation. Plus, we are scheduled to be there for an overnight, which makes it more difficult for the cruise line to come up with an alternative. I think we will be OK, but we will, as always, purchase travel insurance which will cover us if we do lose our hotel deposit on the overwater bungalow due to a missed port.

  13. This hint should come with a caution. The trolley is only near the downtown pier. If you are docked at the Navy pier (which we have always on our cruises), you have to be shuttled to town center.


    Very true. It all depends on the number of ships in port with you. There are websites that will show you how many ships will be in port with you. If you are the only ship, as we were both times on our cruises with HAL, you will be right downtown, where access to the different trolley tours sell tickets.

  14. On a recent Med/TA cruise, we got a supply of Euros in one of the ports, but we thought we would need more, so we purchased an additional 200 Euros from the front desk. The buy rate and commission were not too bad. When we finally left Cadiz for the 8 sea days to FLL, we realized we still had over 200 Euros left. Very poor planning on our part. So, I went to the front desk to apply those extra 200 Euros to our cabin account. We were shocked at the very poor sell rate we got. We lost a bunch on the sell back. Moral of the story..... plan ahead !!!

  15. Your 4-star Mariner status gets you 50% off the Pinnacle Grill and the other specialty restaurants. That means the $35 Pinnacle Grill dinner will be $17.50. Take the dining package cost, then figure the full price of the dinners you will get, minus the 50% and see where you are. The catch is, if you purchase the dinners online, ahead of the cruise, you pay full price. If you book onboard, you get the 50% discount. At this point in time, HAL's website is not setup to recognize your Mariner status and bill you the appropriate price while online. Once you have your meal, you can request the discount be applied. They usually credit it back to your onboard account..

  16. We are on the Jan 28th Western Caribbean on the Rotterdam. This is our first Holland America Cruise. We plan to purchase City View trolley tickets through Holland America. Will we have priority disembarkation for this tour? Thank you for any advice.


    On your tour tickets, it will indicate where and when you report for your tour. Bring everything you plan to take ashore with you and checkin early. Usually you will pickup a ticket which has a color and number. When they call your color and number, they will lead your group down to the gangway and you will meet your tour. Because Key West is a walk around port, once the ship is cleared, which takes no time since you are arriving from another US port, Tampa, everyone is OK'd to get off the ship whenever they want to. There is no priority disembarkation for tours. They get you together in a lounge or meeting room, so that you all get off together, and the tour guide is not looking around for stragglers.

    A little hint. Probably for half price, you can purchase a ticket for either the City View Trolley or the Conch Train Trolley right near the pier. Eliminate the middle man and you will save a bundle.

  17. We are booked on the Eurodam March 2019 cruise, 28 days RT San Diego, that calls at Bora Bora for an overnight stay. We have always wanted to experience the overwater bungalows and we have been looking into rates. We want to spend our overnight in Bora Bora in one of the 5-star hotels. HAL offers a tour like this but their rates for the package are horrible. We want to do a DIY, for this, but there is a huge difference in rates for a non-refundable price vs. a regular rate that you can cancel with a few days notice. We have never cruised to the South Pacific before, has anyone experienced bad weather or some other problem that would cause the Eurodam to cancel the port call at Bora Bora ? It is a tender port.

    We know if we book the HAL tour, we would be covered if they cancel. We would be SOL if we did a DIY tour with a non-refundable rate.

  18. Another thing to consider is if you purchase the Signature Beverage Package (SBP) online, ahead of your cruise, it costs $44.95 per day. If you wait to purchase it onboard from any bartender, it costs $49.95 per day, both prices plus the 15% service charge. It doesn't matter if you use OBC while onboard, they jack up the price by $5. This increase for purchasing onboard does net (yet) apply to the Elite Beverage package, which is $54.95 per day, plus 15%. The reasoning is that HAL wants you to spend your OBC on higher markup items like shore excursions, spa treatments, etc. They would rather you spend your own cash to purchase the SBP, online.

  19. On the Vista class ships, looking at the deck layout, you will see the deck 5 midship cabins have the deck 4 lifeboats immediately below them. If you are in the cabin, looking straight out, you don't see the lifeboats. But if you are out on your balcony, looking down, maybe trying to view a sailaway band on the dock, or a school of dolphins, all you see are the tops of the big orange lifeboats. Also, you will notice that the deck narrows in the midships area. The balconies in that area are less deep than forward and aft balconies.

    We had a guarantee VD grade cabin on the Zuiderdam (Vista class), and we got cabin 6006, all the way forward. Our TA, trying to do us a favour, asked HAL to move us to 5098, right next to the glass elevators. When we boarded and saw the very shallow balcony, barely deep enough for a regular chair, and the huge orange lifeboat immediately below, we pitched a fit. The front desk moved us back to 6006, our original cabin, which by sheer luck, was still available. Cabin 6006 is a VD grade, while 5098 was VA, and more expensive. We were much happier in the VD cabin. See pix below of 5091 (similar to 5098) on the Zuiderdam, showing the lifeboats below and the chairs that have to be turned sideways to allow your feet and legs to fit, when seated.


  20. Of course it's a camera. A TV remote sensor is the size of a pencil eraser and built into the TV frame. The remote control sensors are never external hardware, wrapped in electrical tape, as this was.

    Some perv of a crew member installed it behind the TV when the cabin was empty, with just the lens of the camera peeking around the side. It could have been powered by one of the USB jacks on the TV or the AC outlet. It was programmed with it's antenna to connect to the ship Wi-Fi on a separate subnet that the passengers don't use. Then this perv sits quietly in his crew cabin late at night, with his laptop connected to the camera via Wi-Fi, and waits for the show to start when the guests came back to the cabin for the night. This happens in less-than-reputable hotels all the time. I can't believe the number of people on this thread that are blowing this off as a joke. There's a very good possibility that this is real. The fact that Carnival has not commented on it, or declared it a hoax, indicates that they are taking this seriously and investigating.

  21. We needed a one way business class flight from Tampa to Venice. I checked online, and the one-ways were $8200 and up. If we would book a round trip and throw away the return portion (which the airlines hate) the price was $2900 RT. I asked our TA to check HAL's air program and she got us one way business class air, with a stop in Gatwick, for $1240 P/P. British Air's premium economy was $720 P/P. Regular economy was $340 P/P, all one-way. We could never get these fares by ourselves. Once booked, 7 months out from the cruise, we got BA's record locators from HAL and we could select our seats, and pick our meals on the trans-Atlantic leg. We didn't have to pay for the cruise and the air until final payment date. If we booked ourselves, we would have, in addition to a horrible fare, pay immediately upon booking, and it was non-refundable. With HAL air program, if we had to cancel before final payment, both the cruise and air would cancel with no loss of funds to us. How can you beat that ? Naturally, domestic round trips are another story, you can usually do pretty well by yourself. It's only international, one-way flights where HAL really shines.

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